Shopify Themes are layouts that let you change the look and feel of your store. Learn more in our guide.
A theme is a layout that changes how your Shopify store looks and feels. There are many available, all with different layouts and styles, and work better for different industries or niches - it really depends what you want to convey through your store!
The theme is essentially your website builder which you can customise as you see fit.
When you change to a new theme or make changes to an existing one, it doesn’t impact other areas of your account or your site’s content. You can change things around within your theme without fear of it changing anything else contained within the admin.
You can add free themes from within the admin, or you can buy paid themes from the Shopify Theme Store.
You need to buy a theme before you can publish it, but you can try before you buy. Once you’ve bought the theme, you only pay once and it’s yours to keep, but only for the store that you buy it for. You can transfer a theme licence to another store, but you’ll need to contact Shopify support.
There are many free and ‘paid for’ themes available - it depends how you want your store to look, and the kind of customer experience you want to create.
As well as the free themes, there are lots available from $19. Common prices are $140, $160 and $180. Some themes do cost more than this.
One of the most common reasons for upgrading to a premium (paid for) theme is design. Shopify's free themes are solid and functional, but are sometimes lacking in their look and feel. Premium themes offer more variation, options for customisation, and a richer customer experience.
You also have the option of a bespoke Shopify store, which is not based on a theme but designed and built by professionals who you can commission. There is a large selection of agencies, freelancers and digital experts in the Shopify Experts directory.
While you can only have one published theme on your store at any time, with a Shopify plan you can have up to 20 themes in your account (more if you’re on Shopify Plus) and you can switch between them as you see fit, to publish the one you want your customers to see.
If you’re a web developer or designer and you’d like to create your own theme to sell in the Shopify store, this is eminently possible. You’ll need to be familiar with Shopify’s open source template language, known as Liquid - the Ruby-based language behind all Shopify themes.
Shopify has put together a blog with some tips to getting started if you’re building your first Shopify theme. It has links to lots of great resources to help you learn about Liquid and some example theme templates and tutorials so you can understand how themes work.
There is a huge variety of themes to choose from, and you should pick one depending on what suits your business needs.
Think of features and designs you’d like to see on your store and choose a theme that aligns with these requirements and will allow your store to look and function as you want it to.
You can access the theme section in your Shopify admin by clicking ‘online store’. The default theme on each store is called ’Debut’.
You’re able to buy or install free themes from the Theme store. Paid themes are developed by third parties who deal with general support and updates for themes. If you need customisation that goes beyond the scope of the theme, you may need to hire a Shopify expert via the directory.
You can try a paid theme before you pay for it, to see how it looks with your products, brand colours etc. While you preview a theme, you can make customisations by using the theme editor. Any changes you make will be saved when you purchase the theme.
You can check what the published theme is at the top of the page in the ‘current theme’ area. The published theme is the live one and will be what the public will see after you launch your store.
From your Shopify admin, go to Online Store > Themes.
In the Theme library section, find the theme that you want to publish and then click Actions > Publish.
In the Publish... window, click Publish.
After you publish a new theme, your previous theme appears in the Theme library section on the Themes page.
Shopify offers a large selection of responsive themes - ‘responsive’ means that they’re optimised for every kind of layout and screen resolution. Whether your site is being viewed from a tablet, phone, desktop or laptop device, your website displays perfectly across all of them.
There are lots of responsive themes which are effectively ‘mobile-ready’. Here’s a list of great themes that work well on mobile devices - there’s a selection of paid and free themes amongst them.
If speed is one of your main criteria when searching for your Shopify theme, there are some that are renowned for being faster than others. It’s worth bearing in mind other important elements alongside speed include design flexibility, support from the developer, how old the theme is (an older theme can be less buggy).
This site lists themes based on filterable criteria like ‘rating’, ‘fastest on mobile’ and ‘price’ - if speed is key for you, it shows the results of speed tests for each theme so you can compare how quickly they load before making your decision.
You can add up to 20 themes with a Shopify account; more with Shopify Plus. Only one can be published at any one time.
Professional designers and developers have put their expertise and time into developing Shopify themes, and it’s that time and expertise that you’re paying for. The themes also allow you to differentiate your store from others out there so you can start to build your brand. The world of ecommerce is a crowded one, so any edge that lets you stand out from your competitors is welcome.
With that said, there are free Shopify themes available in the store as well if you would prefer not to pay for a theme and you find one that suits your needs.